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April 18, 2024

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Key updates: Common assessment standard and public procurement

Contractors and buyers are urged to ‘act now’ to meet a new deadline from the Cabinet Office on using the Common Assessment Standard for purchasing standards. Veriforce CHAS, a risk prevention and supply chain management firm, says the sector needs to “raise its game rapidly” to meet criteria. 

The Cabinet Office has issued Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 03/24, replacing PPN 03/23 and introducing updates to the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) and accompanying statutory guidance for use in public procurement.

The note, the government said, applies to all contracting authorities in England, and contracting authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland that exercise either wholly or mainly reserved functions.

CHAS said that this development ‘signals a pivotal shift’ in procurement practices, as it mandates the adoption of the Common Assessment Standard by contracting authorities in the public sector. All contracting authorities can assess their supply chains using the Common Assessment Standard, with usage mandatory from 27 June 2024.

The update means that contractors not already accredited to the Common Assessment Standard seeking to engage with the public sector have less than three months to complete their assessments. 

What’s new in PPN 03/24?

 Notable changes from PPN 03/23 to 03/24 include:

  •  Adoption of Common Assessment Standard (CAS): CAS replaces PAS 91, serving as the new streamlined and enhanced framework for pre-qualifying suppliers. All references to PAS 91 have been removed following its withdrawal by BSI
  •  Revision of Selection Questions: Updates have been made to the standard selection questions, particularly focusing on payment practices and steel sourcing to align with current industry standards.
  •  Clarity on considering bids from Russian/Belarusian Suppliers: New guidelines offer clarity on evaluating bids
  •  Adaptation for E-Procurement: The Selection Questionnaire (SQ) template has been adjusted to better integrate with new e-procurement platform

Contracting authorities and private sector entities seeking responsible contractors can utilise the CHAS Client Portal, a free resource facilitating the quick and easy identification of accredited contractors based on specific criteria.

CHAS Managing Director Ian McKinnon adds: The changes introduced in updated Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 03/24 are good news for the huge number of CHAS Contractors already qualified to the Common Assessment Standard (CHAS Elite) who will now have access to an even wider range of work. 

“However if you’re a contractor not yet accredited to the Common Assessment Standard, there’s no time to lose. This isn’t just about meeting new public sector requirements but also ensuring compliance with private sector standards, which are increasingly aligned with the Common Assessment Standard.”

Further reading: Download SHP’s Annual Products and Services Report – 2023 here! 

Urgent’ action required

The firm said that this prioritisation of the Common Assessment Standard within PPN 03/24 aligns with government initiatives to elevate compliance standards in public supply chains and derive greater social value from public expenditure.

Contractors currently engaged or intending to engage with the public sector must promptly seek accreditation to the Common Assessment Standard to ensure they remain competitive and avoid missing out on opportunities. With less than three months until the new rules take effect, swift action is essential.

“The whole team at Veriforce CHAS is mobilised and ready to assist contractors to upgrade to CHAS Elite and the Common Assessment Standard as quickly as possible”, said Ian McKinnon, Managing Director of Veriforce CHAS, “We know how important this is to the construction industry and to the UK Government, and as the pioneer who first got behind CAS, we are best placed to help the sector raise its game rapidly to meet this challenge.”

For more information on qualifying for or specifying the Common Assessment Standard, visit the Veriforce CHAS website.

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